Area A. Eleven squares (7×7 m) were excavated in the northern part of the excavation area and remains of two habitation layers from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were exposed.
In the early Stratum 2, remains of two buildings, a tomb and a grave complex were found .
Building 1 (5×5 m; Fig. 2), situated in the northern part of Area A and oriented northwest-southeast, was partially excavated. Wall remains of a courtyard and three rectangular rooms adjacent to it in the southeast and southwest were exposed. The walls of the structure were built of poured mud on foundations of small fieldstones that were set into the natural kurkar.
Building 2 (c. 17×18 m; Fig. 3), oriented northwest-southeast c. 7 m southwest of Building 1, was exposed almost in its entirety; eleven spaces were revealed, some were rooms and some courtyards. The walls of the building were constructed from poured mud, at which base was a foundation trench filled with pottery fragments. Numerous pieces of white plaster were found in the fill overlying the floors of the rooms and the courtyards and it therefore seems that at least some of the building’s walls were coated with white plaster.
A grave complex was exposed c. 10 m southeast of Building 1 and c. 5 m east of Building 2; it comprised a courtyard, a structure and a tomb (Fig. 4). The complex was generally aligned northwest-southeast around a tomb in the southwestern corner of the courtyard (3.5×3.5 m).
A one-room structure (3.5×4.3 m) with a mosaic floor was located adjacent to the courtyard’s southern side. The walls of the structure and the courtyard, which were partially preserved, were built of poured mud on foundations of small and medium fieldstones and coated with white plaster.
The mosaic carpet was decorated with a geometric pattern that included three Greek inscriptions, two of which were incorporated in the mosaic frame on the northern and eastern sides and their location apparently denotes the entrances to the structure. The third inscription was integrated in the center of the mosaic carpet (Fig. 5) and indicated the construction date of the building (585 CE). Another Greek inscription, on what was probably a marble chancel screen of a church, was found in secondary use as a covering to the grave’s entrance.
The cist-shaped grave (1.0×1.2×2.2 m) was oriented northeast–southwest and built of large dressed kurkar stones. Its ceiling was a vault that protruded c. 0.5 m above the floor of the courtyard. A molded entry at the eastern end of the grave had a stone threshold and two stone doorjambs with hewn recesses, probably for a door that was not preserved. Just east of the opening were two steps that led to a small entrance (0.5×1.2 m) and from there to the grave. Part of a dolium was embedded in the floor next to the eastern end of the courtyard’s southern wall and the courtyard floor around the jar rim was fashioned from small fieldstones. The jar was probably used for offerings.
Another grave built of large dressed kurkar stones placed into a pit cut in the natural kurkar was exposed c. 5 m east of the aforementioned grave complex.
The Greek inscription bearing the date, the ceramic artifacts and the glass and coins from the floors of the buildings allow us to date the remains of Stratum 2 to the second half of the sixth century CE. It seems that the three buildings ceased to be used and were destroyed in the middle of the seventh century CE.
Although no direct connection was found between the grave complex and Building 2, they were probably components of a larger complex that developed around the burial estate of an important or a holy person in the community.
Stratum 1. The scant remains from this layer were found in close proximity to the surface and thus, were poorly preserved.
Foundations of three walls, a base of an installation and two channels built of small kurkar stones bonded with plaster were found. The walls, built of poured mud, were set in a foundation trench filled with potsherds. Some of the walls were built above those of Building 2 and the grave complex, damaging them.
Remains of a poorly preserved plastered installation and channels were discovered c. 3 m east of the walls (Fig. 6), as well as refuse pits.
Based on the ceramic finds, glass and coins recovered from the refuse pits, Stratum 1 is dated to the Late Byzantine–Early Islamic periods.
Area B is in the center of the site and south of Area A; seventeen squares (7×7 m) that were divided into three sub-areas: North (Ba), South (Bb) and West (Bc), were excavated.
Two squares were excavated in the northern sub-area Ba (Fig. 7), c. 50 m south of Area A. It turned out that the region was used only for burial. Three pit graves, aligned east–west and hewn in the natural kurkar, were found. At the northeastern end of the excavation area was a large vaulted burial structure (0.5×1.0×1.5 m) built into the natural kurkar. The building was not excavated but it seems that its walls were built of small kurkar stones bonded with gray plaster. Based on the meager ceramic finds, it appears that the tombs were built in the Roman period.
Six squares were excavated in the southern sub-area Bb, c. 70 m to the south, and remains of two habitation levels were exposed (Fig. 8). Remains of a plaster floor and a corner of a building constructed from mud bricks were found in the early Stratum 2. A section of a gray plaster floor (2×5 m) was uncovered at the bottom of a pit inside beach sand and it seems that the floor was part of a burial structure whose construction was incomplete. It was not possible to date the construction phase of the floor with certainty; however, based on the ceramic artifacts, glass and coins that were discovered in the fill above it, it seems that the floor was built no later than the beginning of the Byzantine period.
A corner of a building (0.5×2.0 m) built of mud bricks was found c. 15 m southwest of the plaster floor. Extensive evidence of burning and fired mud-brick collapse indicates that the building was destroyed in a fire (Fig. 9). The ceramic and glass artifacts date the structure to the end of the Late Roman–Early Byzantine periods.
Above the building remains of Stratum 2 were the remains of a one-room structure (5.5×6.0 m) in Stratum 1; its walls were built of poured mud placed in a foundation trench filled with large pottery fragments. Pottery and glass vessels from the Late Byzantine period (fifth–first half of the seventh centuries CE) and numerous pieces of white plaster were found on the building’s floor.
Eight squares were excavated in the western sub-area Bc, c. 50 m to the west: six were in the south and two in the north. Remains of a building (5×5 m) with four rooms dating to the Byzantine period were exposed in the southern squares (Fig. 10). The partially preserved walls of the structure were built of mud bricks set on a foundation of small kurkar stones.
Remains of a one-room building (2.5×2.5 m) from the Ottoman–Mandate periods were found in the north of the sub-area (Fig. 11). Its walls were built of large dressed kurkar stones and preserved c. 0.3 m high. The floor of the building, like its walls, was coated with gray plaster. The building was apparently part of the al-Jura village, which was located west of the excavation area.
Area C is located at the southern end of the site and c. 100 m south of Area B; eleven squares (7×7 m) were excavated, divided into two sub-areas: one in the east (Ca) and the other in the west (Cb).
Nine squares were excavated in Sub-area Ca. The remains included two burial structures, a courtyard paved with crushed debris from a pottery workshop, and a floor bedding of an industrial installation, probably a winepress.
Three rooms were exposed in the northern part of one of the burial structures (4.5×7.5 m; Fig. 12). These were built in a row aligned northwest-southeast. The southern part of the structure was severely damaged by later activity and several wall sections and a corner of one room were revealed. Three stone slabs bearing Arabic inscriptions were found in this region and in a pit from the Islamic period; two of the slabs are limestone and the third is marble. Four similar slabs, which turned out to be gravestones, were found in trial trenches conducted in 2004 in the region of Area A (Sharon M. 2007. Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae. Boston. Pp. 16–17).
The second burial structure was located c. 5 m northeast of the first; a corner was found, built of small kurkar stones bonded with plaster. The structure was not excavated.
Remains of a covered courtyard (c. 4.5×12.0 m), whose floor was paved with crushed and tamped debris of a pottery workshop, were discovered south of the first burial structure. Two kurkar column bases (0.7×0.7 m) were found in the western part of the courtyard.
The burial structures that were not entirely excavated could not be dated with certainty. However, based on the ceramic artifacts that were found on the floor of the covered courtyard, it appears that the compound continued to function until the end of the Byzantine period.
Remains of an industrial installation, probably a winepress, were found c. 20 m northwest of the first burial structure, very close to the surface; it was only partially excavated (5×12 m; Fig. 13). Floor bedding composed of large amounts of potsherds mixed with white plaster was exposed. On the southern part of the bedding was a small section of a white industrial mosaic floor. Based on the ceramic finds from the floor bedding, it seems that the installation was built at the end of the Byzantine period.
Two squares (7×7 m), c. 20 m apart, were excavated in Sub-area Cb, at the southwestern end of the site. Remains of a habitation level, tabun and part of a round installation that was probably a kiln, built of fired mud bricks, were found. Based on the ceramic finds, the remains should date to the Byzantine period.
The excavation finds, as well as the information collected in surveys and excavations in the immediate vicinity of the site, make it possible to assess its development over the course of its existence. It was determined that the region was mainly used for burial from the Roman until the beginning of the Islamic period. An industrial zone was added to the site as of the end of the Late Roman period and industrial installations were built. The grave complex, which was built in the Late Byzantine period, and the Arabic gravestones attest to a long tradition of interment in the region; nonetheless, it is apparent that the development of the site as an industrial zone resulted in settling the region and the construction of buildings, as were revealed in Area B.